…I will pick APC ticket, Obaseki boasts
Following his emergence Tuesday night as the anointed aspirant of the Adams Oshiomhole-led faction of Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCGM, and former secretary to the state government, on Wednesday morning picked his nomination form. But in a swift reaction to the development, the state governor, Godwn Obaseki who is seeking a second term in office said it was “hilarious to hear that a so-called consensus candidate for the party in Edo State governorship election was selected in Abuja”.
The event was epochal as all the other aspirants, except Pius Odubu, former deputy governor, who had formed a coalition against the second term bid of incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki, joined him to pick the form. Tell however gathered that Odubu’s absence was not because he was aggrieved as he had congratulated the lucky winner on his selection.
According to an inside source, when Ize-Iyamu announced to them that he would be picking his nomination form at 9 o’clock in the morning the following day, Odubu had hinted that he might not be able to make it because of the location of his Abuja residence which was far-flung from the secretariat of the party. He was said to have promised that if he was not able to make it there before then, he would see him (Ize-Iyamu) after the event. A source close to him told the magazine “he’s not unhappy at all because he expected it. He was said to have placed third, with Ize-Iyamu and Ogiemwonyi coming out first and second respectively”.
In company with him to pick the form were other aspirants namely Chris Ogiemwonyi, former minister of state for works, Prof. Ebegue Amadasun, Charles Airhiavbere, retired army General, Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbonayinma, former member, House of Representatives, and Saturday Uwuilekhue as well as other leaders of the party other leaders of the party. The show of solidarity is seen by political watchers as a bold statement of their unity and sincerity of purpose and a demonstration of their avowed commitment to work together irrespective of who emerged the consensus aspirant as well as the flag bearer at the primary election scheduled for June 22, 2020.
In fulfillment of their pact, the magazine gathered that all the aspirants had raised the N22.5 million which Ize-Iyamu paid for the nomination and expression of interest forms with each person contributing three million naira to the purse. They had also all agreed to pull resources together for the campaign to make sure that Obaseki did not win.
Ize-Iyamu in a brief statement released to the press through his Campaign Organization and signed by the Director of Communication and Media, John Mayaki, described his purchase of the nomination form as “another stride in the quest to move Edo State forward.” Ize-Iyamu said: “By obtaining the form today, we have formally placed our name on the party’s ballot for our internal primary next month. It is another great stride and we are thankful to the other aspirants who have joined us here today to offer support.
“There have been efforts to cause disunity in our party and pit people against each other by those who have sadly embraced politics without principles and are openly rebelling against the leadership of our party because they believe they have absolute power. But as it is clear from today’s event, Edo APC is united and these deviants may have a loud voice but they don’t represent the majority.
“Everyone here may have personal ambitions but we are bound together by the common desire to fast-track the transformation of our state through transparent, effective, and accountable governance that will improve the living standards and social well-being of our people. And we all recognize that this cannot happen unless we dislodge the present administration that has failed this great party and the people of Edo State”.
According to the former governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2016 governorship poll, “An accepted truth is that Edo State needs a government that is alert, proactive, and prompt; not one that has scant regard for the rule of law and seeks to gain an unfair, undemocratic advantage through the manipulation of serious matters of public health”.
With Wednesday’s event, the stage is now set for another titanic battle between Ize-Iyamu and Obaseki, albeit this time, at intra-party level. Already, tension had built up in the factionalised party over the mode of primary election to be adopted and the emergence of Ize-Iyamu as the consensus aspirant could only further raise the stakes. While the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party had announced the adoption of direct primary whereby all registered members of the party would participate in the selection process, Obaseki is rooting for indirect primary in which delegates would determine the flag bearer.
First to officially congratulate Ize-Iyamu was Ogiemwonyi who in a personally signed statement on Wednesday, recalled the May 4, 2020 pact by all aspirants to subscribe “to the ideals of the authentic Edo APC” that whosoever amongst them was chosen as the consensus candidate would “be accepted, congratulated and supported to realise his ambition of providing purposeful leadership for our dear State”. He said it was in furtherance of that agreement “and my abiding philosophy that ‘a man’s word must be his bond’, which is further reinforced by my loyalty to our great Party and absolute belief in Party supremacy, I hereby heartily congratulate my dear brother and friend, PASTOR OSAGIE IZE- IYAMU on his emergence as Edo Authentic APC consensus candidate yesterday”.
He said he and Ize-Iyamu had “a shared commitment and vision for accelerated development of our dear State anchored on purposeful and effective leadership, leveraging on the abundant human and natural resources in our dear State. I therefore commit myself to helping my brother realise his ambition and aspiration which today becomes mine and to which I pledge my unflinching support”. The former minister therefore called on all members of his political family and teeming supporters “to join me in providing the needed support for my dear brother’s (Pastor Osagie Ize- Iyamu) ambition and aspiration”, stressing that “The task of rescuing Edo at this time is more important than all political considerations and I know with our support, Pastor Osagie Ize- Iyamu will accomplish the task”.
Another gubernatorial aspirant, Saturday Idehen Uwuilekhue in his congratulatory message, described the process which produced Ize-Iyamu as “diligently and fairly conducted”. Uwuilekhue noted that everyone cannot be at the vanguard of leadership same time, “and since the leaders whom we trusted and still very much trust have carried out proper screening and arrived in choosing one among us as the candidate, it is expected we all join hands to deliver our chosen candidate. In this regards, I enjoin all other candidates to remain steadfast and team up with Pastor Ize-Iyamu to deliver on our mandates”.
Reacting to Ize-Iyamu’s emergence as a consensus candidate on Channels Television breakfast programme Sunrise Daily Wednesday morning, Obaseki boasted that no man can stop him from returning as the Governor of Edo State. He was also confident that whether direct or indirect primary election, he would pick the ticket of the party. According to him, “I am not a violent person. But I am confident that the way I got into power is the same way I will return. God gave me power. If he wants me to return, I will continue. No man can stop me. Power comes from God.”
Obaseki, who appealed for peace in the state, warned that there should be no bloodshed over an election, adding that “We have always canvassed for peace. What are the issues in Edo and what are the issues that cannot be resolved in a democracy? Our concern is to use the resources of the people to develop the state. This shouldn’t lead to bloodshed. We will not accept to be cowed and intimidated because some people think that they can manipulate rules and cut corners.”
In another reaction by his special adviser on media and communication strategy, Crusoe Osagie, the governor noted that “The Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) which is responsible for deploying the inner workings of the party in the state towards the emergence of a candidate of the APC in the forthcoming gubernatorial election resides and operates in Edo State, not Abuja. It is, therefore, hilarious to hear that a so-called consensus candidate for the party in Edo State governorship election was selected in Abuja”.
He said it was not surprising that “the charade” was hatched and actuated by Oshiomhole and members of his Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), “a proscribed dissident group in the state”. According to him, “For us, this is a joke taken too far and clearly shows that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole once again has set the APC on a journey to perdition in Edo State as he did in Zamfara, Bayelsa, Rivers, Taraba and several other states. Under Oshiomhole, our great party did not lose elections due to unpopularity but as a result of the lawless conduct choreographed by Oshiomhole, which has placed the APC in dire straits one time too many.
“The last time we checked, the timetable released by Oshiomhole’s National Working Committee (NWC) fixed Edo Primary election for 22nd of June, 2020 and it is expected to hold in Edo State, but we now hear that they have conducted the primary election three weeks before the set date in a jurisdiction far away from Edo State, making a mockery of our great party, the APC, President Muhammadu Buhari, the presidency and all other institutions and esteemed individuals associated with our party. Our conclusion on this matter is that like all other illegal actions taken by Oshiomhole, this too is a nullity and shall come to no-effect”.
As other aspirants come to terms with the outcome of the selection exercise, a source who should know hinted the magazine that considerations which influenced the choice of Ize-Iyamu were his political clout, ability to mobilize resources, his grass-roots appeal, and accessibility.